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CASTLE by David Macaulay Kirkus Star


How It Works

by David Macaulay with Sheila Keenan & illustrated by David Macaulay

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59643-744-9
Publisher: David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook

Hooray for the launch of a new nonfiction series for newly fledged readers!

Macaulay’s compact, clear and engagingly illustrated explanation of how a castle is built to thwart potential intruders (you, the reader, in this case) is the right length and depth for readers who have progressed beyond beginner books. His trademark pen-and-ink lines reveal the structural purpose of each part of the medieval stone fortress, while color wash adds appeal. Clearly among the first of a series, this title is labeled "Level 4," and the sentences are just complex enough: “Beneath the ground floor is the dark, damp dungeon.” The narrative is well supported by the illustration—and vice versa: An intriguing drawing has the essential details mentioned in the accompanying passage. Readers will encounter new challenges with text set against dark backgrounds on a few pages, but the font size and line spacing are just right. The length of the book—32 pages, including glossary—seems thoughtfully calculated to bestow a sense of accomplishment. The basics get covered here in fascinating detail: the guard who stops to use the toilet; a cross section of a battering ram. Added riches: a glossary, an index and a list of resources for further study, in small type but nicely focused.

And will a young scholar read it again and look for more? You bet—it’s great fuel for the imagination.

(Nonfiction early reader. 4-8)